Swine Flu Q & A


75 Responses to “Swine Flu Q & A”

  1. ispinyarns says:

    Thank you for posting a well-rounded and rational discussion of swine flu. I’ve been looking for one for days.

  2. aguafruta says:

    “Don’t got to Mexico…Even if it ends up costing you some money on airline tickets…”

    Most of the airlines seem to be waiving or giving breaks on the fees for changing the date of your ticket to Mexico:


  3. Anonymous says:

    You might find it amusing that there is a Swine Flu Cake Naming Contest somewhere out there. Who ever creates the best cake name wins an exotic chocolate, bacon-accented pig: http://apocalypsecakes.wordpress.com/2009/04/27/name-the-swine-flu-cake-win-this-chocolate-pig/

  4. cosanostradamus says:


    Resistance Is Futile. Although vitamin C can help with that, according to Cheech & Chong.

  5. Anonymous says:

    This website http://www.swine-flu-tracker.com/ shows you in real time how quickly swine flu is spreading.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I worry about the implications of the Swine Flu on out psyches…An article on MSNBC today is suggesting that we practice “social distancing” by reducing human contact by up to 50%. Danger Will Robinson!

    I thought I’d lighten the mood with a couple Swine Flu Parodies:

  7. mpb says:

    A guide to Masks — Types, Choosing (PPE) – http://ykalaska.wordpress.com/2006/04/13/masks-%e2%80%94-types-choosing-ppe/ is useful for understanding whether to protect others (breathing out, i.e., mask) or protect from others (breathing in, i.e., respirators).

    An alternate form, that I can’t yet get the state of Alaska or the university or the feds to test is an N-95 possible equivalent== http://totobobo.com

    This last one is easily fit tested (what good is a leaky mask or respirator) and can be fitted to almost any face– adult, child, European, Eskimo.

    Also–3 things everyone should know to prevent pandemic flu, MRSA, RSV, pink-eye

  8. Falcon_Seven says:

    Swine flu case zero.
    So they say. Cute little tyke, though.

  9. ill lich says:

    I’m guessing the “pickle juice” thing is related to the use of cider vinegar as a home remedy, which may in fact be effective for some maladies, though I had not previously heard of it being used for the flu.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for posting this stuff, and cutting through the crapfest that is “Deadly Swineflu Alert ’09″ in the mainstream media.

    It is very frustrating that reports continue to insinuate “cytokine storm” by citing deaths in the 20-40 age group, yet there has been little or no follow up to confirm this. It does appear that incidence reporting coming out of Mexico for the last week has been sketchy and unreliable, and it seems crazy to base any kind of strategy to deal with this new flu on the chaotic data coming from Mexican authorities.

    CNN reports:”Mexico has reported 152 fatalities in flu-like cases in recent days, seven of which have been confirmed as swine flu.” ??? Hopefully CDC can get the real story down there.

    My guess for the disparity btwn US and Mexican deaths? 6-8 tons of fecal matter, chemicals, and other garbage floating around in their air at any given moment (Distrito Federal at least).

    Of course, the longer this bug floats around in the wild, the more likely it recombines or drifts into something different, which is scary.

  11. Joe says:

    Falcon_seven: the Mail is not a particularly reliable source, it’s a sensationalist tabloid.

  12. 13strong says:

    Aw man, Maggie, you’re the best guest blogger BB has had in a loooong time.

    Xeni, Cory, Mark et al – could we consider having Maggie as a permanent blogger?

    Or could she at least come round my house for tea and biscuits some time?

  13. Florsie says:

    I’m no virologist but I’m a mexican girl who lives in Mexico city and for sure I know what’s going through most mexicans’ minds. See, people here in Mexico are soooo stubborn when it comes to going to the doctor. It’s like George Lopez said once “Mexicans don’t go to the doctor because they are afraid they will find something is wrong with them”. People don’t go to the doctor unless they are pretty much coughing blood or unable to walk. People are dying because they won’t go to the doctor, they are afraid of confirming what is evident. Worse than that is the fact that lots of people thing this is all a sick joke or some kind of distraction from the part of the government. They aren’t serious when it comes to taking care of themselves and think this is all Resident Evil or 28 Days Later.

    So that’s my theory why here in Mexico is much worse than in everywhere else.

  14. Renwick says:

    Here is an idea that I haven’t heard anyone mention. I wonder if some kind of intestinal parasite that is prevalent in mexico is altering the immune response of people so they can’t resist the infection.

    It is known that some parasites alter cell mediated immunity:


    It is also known that this is required to fight the flu:


    Also, nematodes can potentially infect people who eat raw fish (like Ceviche). Plus they have high infection rates for worm parasites in mexico:


    There are a lot more articles on these things I just pulled up the first ones I found so they may not be the best but it gets the idea across.

    Also, I bet back in the last flu pandemic in the early 20th century a lot more people had GI parasites.

  15. robulus says:

    Thaaaaaaaaaank You!

    The media in Australia is running with this like its the apocolypse, but I’ve seen a few clips from the US that make our news look tame.

    Really nice to see a clear and concise explanation of central issues such as cytokine storm presented in a few hundred words. Hours of television news coverage consistently fails to manage this.

    I’ve been wondering why the Dreaded Swine Avian Flu of Death has arrived on our shores, but the actual things we fear about it haven’t.

    So has everyone else with a brain, apparently.

    I’ll throw in some wild speculation of my own, this virus could introduce swine and avian strains to the general population, and create immunity benefits and resistance to future hybrid flu strains.

    Note: I’ve got absolutely no qualifications to speculate on this, but that doesn’t seem to be a limiting factor anymore…

  16. liamo says:

    @16 – I thought this was Swine Flu case zero here


  17. Antinous / Moderator says:

    This is like Shark Week on the Discovery Channel.

  18. Stefan Jones says:

    I wouldn’t be surprised if pickle juice was chock full of electrolytes and other good things a dehydrated person might really need.

    Sure as hell it tastes better than Gatorade.

  19. trueblue2 says:

    Yay for Maggie. If BB can’t keep you, you should start your own blog.

  20. Kyle Armbruster says:

    Thanks, Maggie! You’re the best. The best!

  21. Anonymous says:

    Having lived in Minnesota for many years, I’ve heard Osterholm’s bleak prognostications over and over. Like any dedicated pessimist, he’s bound to be right one of these times, but most of us here have relegated him to the ‘cry wolf’ heap.

  22. KPS666 says:

    Before we start freaking out, consider that, according to the CDC, plain old regular flu kills 36,000 people a year, every year. 36,000. So far less than 100 people have died at all of swine flu and NONE in the US.

    The MSM loves stories that generate fear and panic because it generates revenue.

    Turn off the TV and go play a game. The world won’t be ending any time soon.

  23. Antinous / Moderator says:

    What I find remarkable about this is that the widespread publicity will almost certainly cause individuals and countries to take precautions which will contain or eliminate the threat. And then the pundits will decry scare-mongering because it didn’t turn out to be a disaster. Of course these same pundits would be the first to criticize the media and the governments if they didn’t alert the public.

    There’s a peculiar notion that infectious diseases that once plagued us just disappeared on their own. They didn’t. Polio and measles and cholera disappeared from the developed world because media and governments publicized them and individuals took appropriate precautions.

  24. Chief Fulfiller of Needs says:

    Thanks for the update Maggie! Below is a note I received from a U.S. Nurse in Barra de Potosi, Mexico. I have received many emails regarding the coordinated efforts of local medical personnel and the health department to educate and warn citizens.

    Stefani greetings
    So you will know….
    Locally they have decided to close the schools until May 6. This is a safety measure….but it was also a time of a lot of holidays so it not a big move.
    Everyone is very calm. Public health announcements are sane and well coordinated.
    People continue to be much more concerned about the lack of jobs and the down turn in the economy. Money from Mexican workers in the US has decreased substantially and tourism is very low.
    Otherwise life is the same….. locally there is no 24 hour news, no talk shows, no constant onslaught of threats….and nothing interferes with the constant stream of novellas that grip the population throughout the day.
    Thanks for your concern

  25. apoxia says:

    Antinous – I agree completely with your statements. I work at a research institute with heaps of PhD and Master’s students as well as career researchers. I’ve heard a few people here mention that swine flu is all a big media invention. These people are supposed to be smart – I pointed out the millions of people who died of Spanish flu in 1918.

    I suspect that people in Western societies are just too comfortable and can’t imagine life being anything other than how it is now. Short-sighted yes, but I suspect it’s pretty fundamental to human nature.

  26. Blackbird says:

    Ill Lich:

    I just bought an older book of herbal remedies (they’re really interesting reads), I looked up flu remedies and preventatives.

    Something to take as flu sets in contains cider vinegar, water, sea salt(lots of nutrients) and cayenne pepper. You take a wee bit every half hour.
    Dill also has a calming effect on the stomach. But I don’t know about juice from a jar.

    Maggie, what kind of pickle was it?

    BTW – I’ve been mentioning the fact that we don’t know about the mild Mexican cases for a few days…not many people seem to understand.
    Also, there was a new conference from Canada, one of the guys on it (forgot title…) said that they might be able to have a vaccine out to front line workers in as little as 2 months…if things go well.

  27. Anonymous says:

    resident evil ps3 has a crap plot,the story is weak as and is missing its whole outbreak theme,this should boost sales,sheva stands for spread havoc everyones virus anywhere,anyone who is stuck indoors gets killed with boredom.the pigs are our relatives probably secret cloning gone wrong but pigsy is a hero for helping monkey realise that we look the same to him hhhhhnn ah pigsy

  28. Anonymous says:

    You know, it’s worth pointing out that air pollution in Mexico City is really, really, REALLY bad. I’m no doctor, but it doesn’t seem too far-fetched to me to think that a nasty case of the flu could push someone over the edge there.

  29. Takuan says:

    if pickle juice cannot be got, kissing the hem of my robe is also efficacious.

  30. Anonymous says:

    In regards to the “scare-mongering” leading to positive results – this is true , up to a certain point. The people who need to be spurred to action during this kind of event are those who do not, and maybe can not, really understand the threat. By splashing DEADLY FLU OMG all over the news, you can actually reach these folks and get them to do the right things.

    Of course, this will only work once or twice until those same people will cease believing the headlines and then there is a problem, similar to what #20 posted – many Mexicans apparently don’t believe anything their government tells them now, which leads to bigger problems when the government needs to inform, and motivate the public.

    Hopefully, this flu dwindles down, and leaves us with a nice trial run with which we can fine tune our global response to future outbreaks.

  31. Guesstimate Jones says:

    Best article on the topic that I have read, so far. Thank you so much!

  32. Jake0748 says:

    Well sure, anyone can dip the hem of his garment in pickle juice.

  33. Anonymous says:

    Having proper levels of vitamin D may help if you get any influenza. Look it up and get some sun.

  34. Falcon_Seven says:

    @24 – Best. Swine. Flu. Post. Ever.

  35. doubled001 says:

    i live in California i dont have health insurance i think i could have the swine flu . if not getting treated will the our bodies fight off the flu by itself ? it could i get worse

  36. Anonymous says:

    RE: “5. the $64,000 Question:

    Many people emailed to ask why a virus that appears to be killing people in Mexico is producing illness that barely warrants a trip to the doctor here. Baby, if I could answer that, my pay grade would be a LOT higher.”


    Incidentally, the 25 to 45 age fatality range came from a National Public Radio correspondent quoting official Mexican government medical sources.

    Now, we can all debate NPR’s reliability right along with ABCCBSNBCFAUXNEWS, and TASS (not to mention the illustrious Mexican government) but either the statistic is true or not, and if it is true, that is NOT a good sign people…

  37. Anonymous says:

    I don’t understand all these vitriolic posts. Why is everyone so extreme politically? I just want facts. …. Found a cool site at http://www.swineflucare.net. Very neutral. Sticks to facts.

  38. Takuan says:

    what about swine flu and sex?

  39. alowishus says:

    So tickets to Cabo should be really cheap right now, yah?

  40. 13strong says:

    JTINKERTON – would you try to sell water to people whose house was burning down?

  41. Takuan says:

    A mother pig was walking through the barnyard one day with one of her
    piglets. Suddenly, a raccoon raced out from behind the barn and scared
    the living daylights out of the mother pig. The little hog laughed to
    see such a plight and the sow jumped over the coon.

  42. Takuan says:

    no prisoners!

    A traveler was driving through Arkansas when he lost his way and got off the main highway. As he drove by, he saw rows and rows of pigsties and pigpens and pigs running in fields and pigs wallowing in mud. Suddenly, his eye caught something really strange. He did a double take, muttered to himself and then looked a third time. He wondered if he had seen correctly – it looked like a pig with a wooden leg!

    He found the lane to the farm and drove up into the farmyard, where he was met by the farmer. “Excuse me,” the traveler said. “I was just driving by and looking at all your pigs, and I noticed something that I just had to stop and ask about. Tell me, did I see right? Is there really a pig out there with a wooden leg?” The farmer smiled. “Oh, that would be old Caesar you saw. He’s the finest pig a man could ever hope to have – and smart! Well, let me tell you a little about that pig. You see that barge down there on the river? That’s a mining dredge, taking out platinum ore. Old Caesar sniffed out the vein and showed us how to set it up. Now that dredge brings me in about $120,000 every year.

    “There’s another thing, too, a little more personal. One night a couple of years ago I got to drinking and I guess I had more than I should have. I passed out drunk, fell down and knocked over a lamp. That started a fire in the house and old Caesar smelled the smoke. He came in the back door, got the wife and kid out, roused me up and got me out. “There is no question about it – that night old Caesar saved all our lives and you know that is not the sort of thing a man is going to forget too easily.”

    “Why,” the traveler said, “this is all amazing! I have never heard of a pig like this before! This is fantastic! But tell me, how did he get that wooden leg? Was he in a wreck or something?”

    The farmer laughed and said, “Well, naturally, when you have a pig that smart, you don’t want to eat him all at one time!”

  43. robulus says:


    I agree to an extent. We have large stockpiles of anti-virals in Australia due entirely to the media speculation about bird flu.

    However, surely you must have noticed how hard it is to get a quick summary of the facts, as presented here, through the news networks?

    Its all rolling death tolls, experts predicting 20% of the planet will die, and pictures of people with face masks.

    The Daily Show had a very telling clip from a government press conference, went something like this:
    Reporter: Is there any intelligence suggesting this virus has been generated by terrorists?
    Expert: No. This outbreak is completely consistent with natural virus behaviour.
    Reporter: But you wouldn’t completely rule out terrorist involvement?

    Headline: Government refuses to rule out terrorist involvement in swine flu pandemic!!!!

    It would just be nice to see some balance. We’ll have used up all the damn Tamiflu by the end of the week the way we’re going…

  44. Takuan says:

    you will pray for the release of death!

    A lawyer a Rabbi and a Hindu holy man, had car trouble in the countryside and asked to spend the night with a farmer.
    The farmer said “There might be a problem; you see, I only have room for two to sleep, so one of you must sleep in the barn.”

    “No problem,” chimed the Rabbi, “My people wandered in the desert for forty years, I am humble enough to sleep in the barn for an evening. With that he departed to the barn and the others bedded down for the night. Moments later a knock was heard at the door; the farmer opened the door, there stood the Rabbi from the barn. “What’s wrong?” asked the farmer. The Rabbi replied, “I am grateful to you, but I can’t sleep in the barn. There is a pig in the barn and my faith believes that this is an unclean animal.”

    His Hindu friend agrees to swap places with him. But a few minutes later the same scene reoccurs. There is a knock on the door, “What’s wrong, now?” the farmer asks. The Hindu holy man replies, “I too am grateful for your helping us out but there is a cow in the barn and in my country cows are considered sacred. I can’t sleep on holy ground!”

    Well, that leaves only the lawyer to make the change. He grumbled and complained, but went out to the barn. Yep, you guessed it! Moments later there was another knock on the farmers door. Frustrated and tired, the farmer opens the door, and there stood the pig and the cow.

  45. Anonymous says:

    Hey all, found this site, it has updates and general info on the swine flu outbreak sorted by country (ie US, Mexico, New Zealand, Europe) seems quite good…


  46. Takuan says:

    A man is driving up a steep, narrow mountain road. A woman is driving down the same road. As they pass each other, the woman leans out of the window and yells “PIG!”

    The man immediately leans out of his window and replies, “BITCH!”

    They each continue on their way, and as the man rounds the next corner, he crashes into a pig in the middle of the road and dies.

    If only men would listen.

  47. Carl Rigney says:

    It’s a cytokine media storm! Flee to the hills!!

  48. Jay Acker says:

    Best Guest Blogger ever!

    Timing is everything.

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      Best Guest Blogger ever! Timing is everything.

      She hasn’t even caused a plane to crash into the Hudson yet.

  49. Carl Rigney says:

    Stephan Zielinski FTW on remix culture! I’m loading it on my iPod for tomorrow’s plane flight.

    I wonder what smallpox sounds like?

  50. Anonymous says:

    Hey, I remember getting immunized against some form of swine flu in college, as part an aggregate flu vaccine. That was at least three years ago though. Is there any possibility that I will be immune to this virus?

  51. Hangfire says:

    What is the possibility of the altitude and pollution factors being if not significant but contributory issues with the number of deaths in Mexico city?

  52. bjacques says:

    No, I’d offer to buy the house. The price drops the longer they wait, of course.


    I think @20 Florsie has it right. It’s way too early to establish demographics on the deaths in Mexico, but chances are most of the victims in Mexico are working or poor. Machismo may play a role also, but a visit to the doctor entails at least the opportunity cost of missing a day’s work (or the risk of being fired), and of course the possibility of learning about an expensive illness.

    A lot of people in Mexico City went to work yesterday although the mayor advised against travel, because that’s not the same as permission from one’s boss to throw a sickie at the first sniffle.

    For most of us reading this, getting the flu sucks, but you can call in sick without being fired, grab the aspirin bottle, fix some ramen or chicken soup (or dill juice), and wait it out. Being upper-working class has its advantages.

    If this is true, then the relatively high number of deaths in Mexico is not much different from that in China with bird flu.

    It also suggests that the flu will spread amonf working-class US citizens pretty quickly, though to less deadly effect, and of course adjusting for the benefit of early warning from Mexico.

    My 2 centavos, anyway.

  53. Anonymous says:

    Taliban s in the desert,
    Tsunamies in the sea;
    vises in the atmosphere;
    Quakes in the crust……

    The END TIME is around, ever herd of Apocalypse ?.
    Receive your baptism in Christ NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!


  54. Takuan says:

    “I wonder what smallpox sounds like?”


  55. Zandr says:

    Hmm, I like pickle juice too, but I never thought of it as a home remedy… just the treat you got when you took the last pickle. :)

  56. Anonymous says:

    My guess is that if this flu started in Mexico, they have a head start on everyone and we will see whatever happens in Mexico play out in other parts of the world, but on a smaller scale, due to the reduced geometry of contact. So there will be some death cascades here and there with the same death to infection ratio as in Mexico, but less total numbers.
    This is already unexpected and of course it is unknown what the virus will do. Watch what happens there, put a delay on it, and here it comes.

  57. Stefan Jones says:

    No, no, no, No!

    All this informed and rational discourse is a TRICK propagated to you sheeple by your Reptoid masters.

    Hand washing? HAH! You can’t spell “President Barrack Hussein Obama” without “DR BRONNER SOAP.” Coincidence? I think not!

    Only through panic, wild speculation, and spreading rumors by racist nut-jobs can we survive long enough to emerge from our prayer bunkers in a land cleansed of all those people we don’t like. NGHN!

  58. Takuan says:

    ?Jabba the Rush let you out of your pen?

  59. jjasper says:

    “Anybody who thinks they know what this virus is going to do weeks, months or years from now really doesn’t have a clue what they’re talking about.”

    Which is why I’m actually worried. Not panicking, just worried.

  60. Purly says:

    So like, I’ve been sneezing, but I usually sneeze this time of year because of pollen. I’m wondering if I should be avoiding other people just in case it’s more than just allergies.

  61. donquai says:

    Viruses, bacteria and fungi do not cause diseases. Humans cause diseased by the choices they make in their lives. This also includes choices made by ancestory and expressed as genetics. Why worry about something you have complete control over? You create your own reality and the worry is gonna kill you anyway.

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      Viruses, bacteria and fungi do not cause diseases.

      No, really. Disease is spread by miasma. Here, have some water that I just decanted from the cesspool.

  62. noen says:

    Dr. Michael Osterholm has been consistently wrong for decades. Whenever the media here trots him out blaring his alarmism I turn him off. He only has one product that he’s selling and that’s his own self aggrandizement.

    Of course, he is careful not to say anything factually wrong. He just pushes the worse case scenario and engages in hyperbole in order to promote his own career.

    I think there is a lot of that going around.

  63. Kieran O'Neill says:


  64. Takuan says:

    mmmmm, cessss

  65. IronyElemental says:

    “Scanning ‘Swine Flu Hemagglutinin.mp3′ for viruses…none found.”

    It’s resistant to virus checkers, too, apparently.

  66. BarkingSpider says:

    Your entries are the first on this site that I’ve decided to always read. Thanks so much for writing them.

  67. Ratdog says:

    Great idea with the swine flu amino acid sequence song.

  68. Takuan says:

    I DEMAND someone immediately play the antibody music.

  69. ludditemike says:

    We’re all going to die. You heard it here first.

  70. Takuan says:

    speak for yourself

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